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We Love Our Pets and Grieve When They Die
Date:10/8/2007

California Veterinary Medical Association Offers Grief Guidance to Help

Owners Cope

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- When Alex, an African Grey Parrot famous for his advanced recognition and language skills died last month, his owner, scientist Irene Pepperberg, needed time to grieve over the loss of her pal before she could talk about it. Newspapers and web sites printed his obituary and many people sent condolences. What Pepperberg experienced is a common response to a pet's death. The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) advises that the grief process is a continuum, with each owner and family member handling pet loss in his or her own way.

"We love our pets and feel grief when they die. People need to be given the space and freedom to grieve for their pets," said Dr. Jeff Smith, president of the CVMA. "A person can be traumatized over the loss of an animal."

Veterinarians are available to counsel bereaved pet owners through their loss, particularly, when a family must make a decision to euthanize an older, ill or severely injured animal. Through that experience, many individuals are overcome with emotion and cast blame on themselves for cutting a pet's life short. They may go through many stages of grief that could include shock, denial, anger, depression and, finally, acceptance and resolution. But the process is never easy, and it's important people know they can seek comfort in many places. The CVMA offers a web site, "It's About Pets," with information on pet loss and the human-animal bond (go to http://www.itsaboutpets.net).

"Veterinarians understand better than many what pet owners are going through because often they have seen that pet through a lifetime of care," Dr. Smith. "Many times the pet owner and doctor develop a bond of trust and friendship so a veterinarian can offer support or refer clients to local pet b
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SOURCE California Veterinary Medical Association
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